Churches in the North East gave a warm welcome to two Christian pilgrims embarking on a 100-mile journey across the region.
A few weeks ago, the Rev Paul Child, new associate curate in the Monkwearmouth Parish, Sunderland, noticed a tweet from the Big Bible project which said Sheridan Voysey and DJ Konz, two Australian nationals now residing in the UK, were about to embark on a nine-day trip from Lindisfarne to Durham Cathedral on foot to see the Lindisfarne Gospels.
The pilgrimage was designed to be an interactive experience for those following online, with regular tweets about their progress, pictures, video blogs and offers to pray for people as they walked.
Rev Child said: “I thought it was worth asking if they were coming through our parish, not least because of the heritage of St Peter’s, one of the oldest churches in the country.
“DJ replied, we swapped email addresses and decided to see what we could do to help them on the final leg of their pilgrimage.”
This included organising a tour of World Heritage Site candidate St Peter’s so the pair could find out about its rich history, including viewing the original 7th Century archway where the Venerable Bede, known as the Father of British History, would have entered the building aged just seven.
It also meant a chance for Sheridan and DJ to join the 8am congregation at St Andrew’s, sometimes referred to as “the cathedral of the arts and crafts movement,” to help set them up spiritually for the last day of their trek.
DJ said: “This is a fantastically historic part of the country and centre to the Christian story in the UK.
“To follow in the footsteps of the Cuthbert pilgrimage has been a deeply spiritual experience and the welcome we have received has been magnificent. Our visit to St Peter’s which was around as a place of worship at the time of Cuthbert’s ministry is just mind blowing - what a privilege.”
Rev Child added: “The three churches in the Monkwearmouth Parish, the third being All Saints, in Fulwell, are really seeking to be welcoming, hospitable places for people to come and worship. I hope this encounter with DJ and Sheridan shows that we are also interested with things happening outside the church building, and keen to engage with those from both inside and outside our community.”
The pilgrims finished their journey through the Durham diocese with a brief visit to St Mary and St Cuthbert’s, in Chester-le-street, and on to the historic Durham Cathedral.